Australia intercepts suspect poultry in bid to prevent flu outbreak

Australia intercepts suspect poultry in bid to prevent flu outbreak

Australia intercepts suspect poultry in bid to prevent flu outbreak

Updated 31 March 2012, 15:10 AEDT

Australia's justice minister, Chris Ellison, says several tonnes of suspect poultry meat has been intercepted by authorities trying to prevent an outbreak of bird flu in Australia.

Senator Ellison has given no details of which countries the suspect meat came from but says quarantine and customs officers have received extra training to deal with the threat.

The World Health Organisation has listed 16 Asian countries as high-risk areas.

Senator Ellison says the Australian public should remain calm as quarantine and customs are vigilant to the threat.

"We've seized several tonnes of poultry meat and associated goods and items, and I think the thing to remember is that in this case we shouldn't panic, we shouldn't cause undue public apprehension," he said.

"We're working closely with health and overseas organisations and we have our people posted overseas who are providing us with intelligence".

Since late 2003, outbreaks of bird flu have killed more than 60 people in Asia, mostly in Vietnam, but also in Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia.